Identification cards of people linked to the operation, including Airan Berry. Photo: Miraflores Presidential Palace/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
A Venezuelan court on Friday sentenced two ex-U.S. special forces soldiers to 20 years in prison for their part in a failed operation to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro, AP reports.
Why it matters: The case comes amid heightened tensions between Washington, D.C., and Caracas after the Trump administration last year publicly supported opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who has vowed to oust Maduro through a military uprising.
- Luke Denman and Airan Berry, both decorated former Green Berets, were found guilty of conspiracy, trafficking in illegal arms and terrorism.
- Their lawyers said they were barred from judicial proceedings Friday night, adding the court violated their constitutional right to a defense.
What happened: “Operation Gideon” launched from Colombia in early May and left at least eight rebel soldiers dead while another 60 were jailed, per AP.
- Another former Green Beret, Jordan Goudreau, took responsibility for the failed attack and said he hired Denman and Berry to prepare for the attack.
- Venezuelan prosecutors have ordered Goudreau's arrest, though he is believed to be in the U.S.
American officials have denied a role in the raid, and have not said what knowledge they have about camps in Colombia that the group used to organize the operation.
- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Trump administration would work to win Denman and Berry's freedom, according to AP.